Richard Barnes : Still Rooms & Excavations
San Francisco has always had limited, and sought after, real estate. Back in the 1800s when people looked at a cemetery, they didn’t see resting places for loved ones -- they saw land to sell, and the potential for their own property values to go up. This led to the ending of new burials by 1900, and a slow, decades-long process of exhuming all the dead from SF’s 30 cemeteries, and sending them to their new resting place in Colma. (The only cemeteries that remain are the military and pet cemeteries in the Presidio, and the cemetery at Old Mission Dolores.)
However, this transition didn’t always go smoothly. While doing renovations in 1992, workers found 780 bodies buried underneath the Palace of the Legion of Honor, some still holding their rosaries. The whole area was once the Golden Gate Cemetery, a graveyard for poor and working class European and Chinese immigrants. The 780 that were found were moved to Skylawn Memorial Park in San Mateo County. But, experts say, there’s probably thousands more still under the museum.
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